Ten years ago, I wrote about my wonderful experience at The Remote Lounge in NYC. Somehow that post ended up on Hacker News this week and it’s been a wild ride. Even though it’s been around for a while, HN can still send server crushing traffic these days. I had about 12,000 unique visits on the first day the post was live, which is pretty crazy. I don’t even think it was the top post of the day.
Secondly, I found a lot of great info in the comments of the post, including this video of Leo Fernekes describing the original hardware he built for The Remote Lounge back in 2001.
But the best part of having my post linked on Hacker News was having nhod, the sole developer of the software at The Remote Lounge, chime in and do an AMA in the comments. There are some great explanations of how they converted the video to digital and some of the behind the scenes details of how the “Cocktail Consoles” work.
I always felt my experience at The Remote Lounge helped give me an early look at the way we now live our lives online, so I asked nhod about how they felt their experience prepared them for web 2.0 and the future of the social media. Here is their response:
This is a good question. Remote (and its ancestor We Live in Public) was way ahead of its time in regards to how public people were going to be about sharing their lives online. In many ways Remote was merely an instance of much larger trends in society that began decades (centuries?) before. Sharing your life with people you have never met; the culture (and cult) of celebrity; the long tail; constructing a persona for the public vs your private life; taking pictures of people without permission or knowledge; meeting people in the same room as you not via talking directly to them but through a technological disintermediation; technology as art… Remote had all of these things and more, all incorporated using the available technology at the time. (The medium is the message!)nhod
Those same trends continued on as technology improved: as hundreds of cameras in a single venue became billions of cameras all around us and in every pocket; as capturing a grainy black and white photo on a single debaucherous night and sharing it via email became sharing high resolution 4k sex videos on Grindr and Tinder; as dressing up infrequently for a single night so as to take advantage of the video and photo technology in an unusual venue became constant “dressing up” via creating an entire persona you constantly curate on various social media platforms; as small-time surveillance you willingly went into for fun became ubiquitous surveillance that made trillions of dollars for new hegemonies and entrenched the other powers that be even further; as the “innocent” early internet culture we started with that was all about freedom and revolution and individual power turned ugly and scary following 9/11 and became walled gardens and centralized control. (As another commenter pointed out, Remote opened shortly after 9/11 — we were supposed to open around 9/13, but then the world ended, and we had to push it back a bit.)